17 March 2018


Wiss 8″ Kitchen Shears

Old-fashioned multi-purpose kitchen shears

In this Cool Tools video review we’re going to take a look at a new pair of classic kitchen shears. These are made by Wiss, they’re Italian made and run about $30. And by using the link in the description to pick them up on Amazon you help support my videos and the Cool Tools blog.

These are all-metal, multi-purpose kitchen scissors. I remember growing up with a pair like these in our kitchen. They’ve got a serious heft to them. This particular design has been made under the Wiss brand since the 1930s. And part of the appeal has always been the extra features they crammed in. This section here works as a bottle opener. Above that you have this nubby section meant for twisting off small lids. It can also work as a nut cracker or crab cracker. There’s a flat section on the handle that can be used as a small hammer. And this little protrusion on the top is supposedly used for unsealing ball jars, or generally unsealing lids that are vacuumed tight. Also, unlike the ones I grew up with, these include a deep notch on the blade that’s perfect for cutting rope, or bundles of stems, without them slipping down the blade. And because there’s a removable screw here, there’s no reason you can’t take these apart to wash them if you use them on food or something messy. It also means you can tension them up easily if they get loose.

Now, the downside for these from my time with them is that the extra weight compared the other scissors in my house makes me a little nervous about dropping them. If these drop on your hardwood wood floor or your foot — you’re going to be crying.

Also, the paint on the handle started to chip after just lightweight use. I see 50 year old versions of these on eBay where the paint has held on — so chalk that up to they just don’t make them like they used to. If you can find an old pair and restore them, that might be the best way to go. But even then, an all-metal handle isn’t super comfortable no matter what the paint looks like.

-- Donald Bell 03/17/18

17 March 2018


Ridgid Pro Pack

Rectangular Vacuum Cleaner

Like many people, I’ve had a lifetime of those round shopvacs on wheels with various attachments strung out around the house. The Pro Pack solves a lot of the problems that the traditional shopvacs had. It’s in a rectangular form factor much like a giant toolbox, right down to a sturdy handle and storage compartments for all of the attachments and the power cord. The shape and light weight make it easy to carry and store, and because the vacuum is so powerful — 5.0 peak HP — you can pick up all sorts of things. To empty, just pop off the top and pour the contents out. It’s easy enough to manage that I’ll probably be using it around the house almost as much as my regular vacuum cleaner.

-- Annette S. Leung 03/17/18

(This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2006 — editors)

16 March 2018


Zach Supalla, CEO of Particle

Cool Tools Show 115: Zach Supalla

Our guest this week is Zach Supalla. Zach is the CEO and one of the founders of Particle, the most widely-used IoT platform. Particle is used by more than 140,000 developers and 8,500 companies to build IoT products ranging from the smart home to industrial equipment.

Subscribe to the Cool Tools Show on iTunes | RSS | Transcript | Download MP3 | See all the Cool Tools Show posts on a single page

Show notes:

“Superhuman is brand new email software — still in private beta — that is all designed around keyboard shortcuts. Extremely low-friction email software, and besides being super well-designed, the team there has been incredibly hands-on during the private beta and super open to feedback. Great company, thinking about product in all the right ways.”

Glowforge laser cutter
“Glowforge laser cutter is a desktop, consumer-friendly laser cutter … It’s got a web application that you use to interact with it. It comes with tons of templates for designs that are already sort of built in, and they send you a set of materials that are designed to work with it that it can automatically recognize and adjust the laser strength accordingly. So it comes with cuts of leather, it comes with cuts of acrylic, it comes with wood and wood veneer, and all that stuff just works right out of the box. So I got it up and running in probably 20 minutes and learned how to use it in 15, and had cut out my first thing in about half an hour after setting it up, which was super cool.”

Bullet journal
“Bullet Journal is a system for using a notebook to keep track of things. I have tried every piece of task management software ever created (Asana, Trello, Wunderlist, etc. etc.) and a good notebook with this system trumps them all.”

AeroPress Coffee Maker + Porlex Coffee Grinder
“I love great coffee, and I have a whole complicated setup at home. But when I’m traveling, I carry an Aeropress coffeemaker with a Porlex coffee grinder, which somehow perfectly fits inside the Aeropress, a la ‘things fitting perfectly into other things.’ With the two you can make delicious coffee anywhere, even on a plane.”


We have hired professional editors to help create our weekly podcasts and video reviews. So far, Cool Tools listeners have pledged $371 a month. Please consider supporting us on Patreon. We have great rewards for people who contribute! – MF


16 March 2018


Motion Sensor Light Bulbs

Light bulb with built-in motion sensor

Six months ago, I tweeted about my new motion sensing LED lightbulbs and Mark said I should check back now. They’re still great – probably one of my best purchases of 2016 (along with Stabilicers) We have them outside our front door, so when we come home at night they automatically go on and let us see which key is the right one. Recently there have been some robberies in the neighborhood, so it’s another comfort as well. But really, this is such a helpful tool. I remember wondering if it existed, googling “motion sensitive lightbulbs” and then finding that the world is a magical place sometimes. Anyway, these specific bulbs are pretty good. I guess my one minor complaint is that they aren’t super beautiful or anything, but utility over prettiness, amiright?

-- Max 03/16/18

15 March 2018


Kugihiki Flush-Cutting Saw

Japanese Hand Saws

The Japanese Kugihiki flush cutting saw saves me time, makes a cleaner cut, and needs no setup time. Since the teeth have no set, you can slide the saw against a surface without marring it.

These and other Japanese hand saws such as Dozuki and Ryoba have caused me to abandon power tools for many jobs. The cut almost never needs cleaning up and is good for many materials. The Ryoba looks intimidating but can replace a cheap circular saw any day for a lot less money.

-- Alan 03/15/18

15 March 2018


Indestructible Field Book

Waterproof, tearproof, weatherproof notebook

Like many Cool Tools readers, I have long carried a pocket notebook for quick notes and logs of conversations or information I don’t want to forget. I used to carry Moleskines, but they were not really satisfactory for back-pocket carries and eventually fell apart. Though I liked their aesthetics, I shared a common complaint about the flimsiness and “bleediness” of their paper. My search for a durable pocket notebook is over. This “Indestructible Field Book” by Elan Publishing, a longtime maker of teacher’s record books, lives up to its name. I will never be without one again. I am giving away any other spare pocket-sized notebooks. They are sized like other popular pocket notebooks, with ruled pages. But the synthetic paper, which is plastic coated with ink-receiving clay, is absolutely waterproof, smear-proof and tear-proof. Back pockets hold no hazards for this tough tool.

Unlike the Rite-in-the-Rain notebooks, which use beeswax to achieve waterproofing, these don’t require any special pens or pencils but can take any standard ball-point pen. I have good results with a Fisher Space Pen, but any standard ballpoint I have tried works fine. The one exception is gel pens; they will smear, so you will have to forego those crisp, color-intense gel lines.

Current price on Amazon is $11.49 for a pack of four of 48 pages each, cheap enough to use for everyday note-taking and the same number of total pages as a Moleskine pocket notebook. So far as I’ve been able to discover, this model only comes in one distinctive bright orange color (Elan makes other “non-indestructible” notebooks as well).

I can’t find information on the synthetic paper on the Elan site, but according to the online printing industry publication In-Plant Graphics, “Synthetic paper is a white matte plastic that is made from a mixture of polypropylene and polyethylene. It’s either produced by die extrusion with a clay coated finish, or clay filled when being produced into a single layered substrate by calendar extrusion. … All synthetic papers are 100% recyclable, moisture resistant, tear resistant and UV resistant, which helps keep them out of the waste stream longer than pulp paper. Unlike PVC-vinyl and polystyrene substrates, synthetic papers do not use chlorine, stearates, heavy metals or any cancer-causing chemicals in its manufacturing process. Therefore, synthetic paper is considered more sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

-- David A Murray 03/15/18


img 03/14/18

Suncast Garden Tool Hanger

Keeps broom bristles straight

img 03/13/18

Waterproof RGB LED Strip

Cheap, quality source of 5 volt programmable colored LED strips

img 03/12/18

The Garlic Twist

Simple garlic masher

img 03/12/18

Dremel Sharpening Kit

Restores edge on garden tools such as shears, hoes, and shovels

img 03/12/18

Husky 4.5Lb Splitting Maul

Great for splitting logs and kindling

See all the reviews


img 09/13/11

Last Pass

All-in-one password management

img 06/8/13

Celestron FirstScope

Best beginner telescope

img 03/1/18

LockJaw Self-Adjusting Pliers

Self-adjusting Vise Grips

img 10/9/07


Cheapest hi-quality photo scans

img 11/27/08

Omega Juicer

Quiet, versatile juice extractor

img 01/13/10


Brilliant 3D maze

See all the favorites



Cool Tools Show 115: Zach Supalla

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 114: Scott Smith

Picks and shownotes

Cool Tools Show 113: Madeline Ashby

Picks and shownotes

23 February 2017


Cool Tools is a web site which recommends the best/cheapest tools available. Tools are defined broadly as anything that can be useful. This includes hand tools, machines, books, software, gadgets, websites, maps, and even ideas. All reviews are positive raves written by real users. We don’t bother with negative reviews because our intent is to only offer the best.

One new tool is posted each weekday. Cool Tools does NOT sell anything. The site provides prices and convenient sources for readers to purchase items.

When Amazon.com is listed as a source (which it often is because of its prices and convenience) Cool Tools receives a fractional fee from Amazon if items are purchased at Amazon on that visit. Cool Tools also earns revenue from Google ads, although we have no foreknowledge nor much control of which ads will appear.

We recently posted a short history of Cool Tools which included current stats as of April 2008. This explains both the genesis of this site, and the tools we use to operate it.

13632766_602152159944472_101382480_oKevin Kelly started Cool Tools in 2000 as an email list, then as a blog since 2003. He edited all reviews through 2006. He writes the occasional review, oversees the design and editorial direction of this site, and made a book version of Cool Tools. If you have a question about the website in general his email is kk {at} kk.org.

13918651_603790483113973_1799207977_oMark Frauenfelder edits Cool Tools and develops editorial projects for Cool Tools Lab, LLC. If you’d like to submit a review, email him at editor {at} cool-tools.org (or use the Submit a Tool form).

13898183_602421513250870_1391167760_oClaudia Dawson runs the Cool Tool website, posting items daily, maintaining software, measuring analytics, managing ads, and in general keeping the site alive. If you have a concern about the operation or status of this site contact her email is cl {at} kk.org.